What Makes Good Website Design? – (Part 3 of 3)

by Sherryl Perry on April 9, 2010

Tips to good website design
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In part 1 of this series, I recommended that before you or your website designer begin designing your website, you understand who your target customer is. What type of a website will appeal to them? Should your site have a fun and creative feel or should it look trustworthy and serious? Are you working with an existing brand that you need to integrate your website into or do you have free creative license to design it completely from scratch? Whether you’re building your own site, working with a designer or you simply want to understand what constitutes good design for a website, here are some basic tips:

10 Basic Tips to Website Design

  1. Keep your website clean and simple.
  2. Use colors sparingly.
  3. Use fonts sparingly.
  4. Optimize your photos and graphics to load quickly
  5. Maintain plenty of “whitespace” to keep your pages uncluttered.
  6. Don’t make visitors scroll to see important information.
  7. Keep your navigation simple.
  8. Maintain a consistent look & feel to each page of your website.
  9. Keep your content relevant.
  10. Focus on 1 main point for each page of your site.

Studies suggest that you have 3 seconds to grab your website visitor’s attention. If your site is difficult to read or confusing, your visitor will leave your site. If the page they land on doesn’t have the content they’re looking for, they’ll leave your site. So, how can you design your site to visually engage your visitors?

For starters, try sticking to no more than 3 colors and remember that dark text on a light background is generally easiest on your eyes. As for fonts, many designers choose one Sans Serif font type (such as Arial or Verdana) and stick to it throughout their site. Also, don’t feel you need to fill up the entire page. Visitors won’t know where to look if your website pages are too cluttered. Proper use of whitespace helps to guide their attention to where you want them to look.

Try to not confuse your website visitors. Once they’ve landed on your site, they’ll look around and get the “lay-of-the-land“. They’ll figure out where your navigation menu is, where to look for content, how to contact you, search, etc. A consistent look and feel to your site prevents them from having to figure this all out again when they go to another page.

5 Key Components to a Website Page

  1. Logo/Colors: Your website is part of your brand identity. If you already have printed marketing materials (and have no compelling reasons to change them), then you probably already have a color scheme and logo. Building brand recognition dictates keeping your identity consistent across all of your marketing efforts.
  2. Navigation: Your website navigation has to be easy to use and easy to find. Not all of the pages from your website need to be part of your main menu. You can link to new pages or use sub-menus. Larger sites often add site maps for additional navigation.
  3. Content: “Content is King!” – Personally, I’ve heard this comment so many times that I’m tired of hearing it. However, it’s true. Visitors will go to your website because they need something. It could be information, something they want to buy or simply entertainment but they are there for a reason. Fill that need or they’re gone. If you know your target customer, you should know their “lingo” – the words/phrases they’re searching on. Knowing and using the keywords that your visitors relate to is critical to both being found (showing up in the search results) and keeping your visitors on your site long enough to get them to do whatever it is you want them to do.
  4. Footers: Footers (located at the bottom of your page) usually contain copyright, contact & legal info as well as links to main sections of your site. There’s a new trend by companies with larger sites to utilize this area to include expanded navigation and content such as blogrolls and linkrolls (links to recommended blogs & links).
  5. Whitespace: Whitespace or negative space refers to areas of your page that does not have text, graphics or photos. Using whitespace carefully helps to keep your visitors from being overwhelmed by too much content.

To sum it up, cohesive design helps people feel comfortable. Good content makes them feel that they’re on the right website. Professionalism helps them trust you. A great book that I highly recommend reading is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It has great examples of what to do and what not to do when it comes to designing, redesigning or tweaking a website.

I hope this series of articles has raised as many questions as it has answered. I can say with confidence that as long as you’re in business, you’ll never be completely “done” with your website. There will always be ways to improve your site. There will always be changes to the way people find you and the way search engines deliver their results. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lenny
Twitter:
July 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

Avoid a lot of homepage distractions, use colors that are soothing to the eyes, and keep things simple and informative.

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Sherryl Perry July 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Hi Lenny,
“Avoid a lot of homepage distractions” – great advice! “Simple and informative” is good too. That’s why I like Steve Krug’s book “Don’t Make Me Think” so much. It includes great examples of how real users get so confused on websites. If you sit someone in front of your website, they should not need help figuring out what it is that you want them to do next.

Thanks for dropping by and joining the conversation.
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website design sydney May 11, 2012 at 3:47 am

A good design is as important as the high quality content. The absence of a clean and easy to navigate design makes it much more unattractive for the visitors to actually read your content. Professionally designed websites are often a clear winner over those built for search engines and not for human eyes.

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Sherryl Perry May 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thanks for weighing in on this. There is so much competition these days. It’s important to keep our website visitors on our site and not lose them to one of the thousands of other sites online.
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Online Strategies
Twitter:
December 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

First impression is the best impression. A website designed to convey what it’s all about with an excellent design to match the type of website could grab immediate attention.

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Sherryl Perry December 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

Matching your website design to the “type” of website you have is a good point. This is especially evident when you look at color schemes and target markets. For example, websites that instill trust (like banking sites) are usually in the blue and grey tones. There are a lot of studies that have been conducted about color schemes and the “feeling” that they convey.
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Sherryl Perry June 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I checked out Mitch’s site and it is a nice clean design. I really like the color scheme. I have to admit though, personally, I prefer to see the content area centered in the middle of the screen. I may not be his target reader though.
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John Knights June 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for checking it out. I just liked the design of his blog, that’s all. I tried to cope up with his topics but found out I couldn’t keep up with them, pity me.

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John Knights June 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Nice Tips Sherryl,
One of the blogs I can’t forget because of it’s simple design is this blog http://www.twistimage.com/blog/ by Mitch..

It’s pretty simple and clean and the margin is short which makes it more easier to read. I don’t know if you can see what I see but I find his blog design very pleasing in the eyes.

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saurabh March 2, 2011 at 5:08 am

This is great and I think your website should be attractive and catchy to attract the visitors. Content should be fresh so that the user will come again and again.

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Sherryl Perry March 5, 2011 at 10:25 am

Great point about keeping your content fresh! That’s one of the main reasons that blogging has become so popular these days. Both the search engines and your website visitors love fresh content. It really helps you to get your website noticed.

Thanks for commenting and adding to the conversation!
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Bob January 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

This is a fantastic post. I totally agree that you have 3 seconds to grab your website visitor’s attention and if your website doesn’t do this within those first 3 seconds they will immediately leave, that is one of the most important factors! I’m going to bookmark this, thanks for sharing!

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Sherryl Perry January 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Thanks Bob. You have a nice website. It’s nice to hear from a professional website designer like yourself. My motivation for writing this post was because a friend of mine was insisting on creating her own website using a website builder. I tried to convince her that her fledgling business deserved a website that would serve her well. I also cautioned her against investing the time and energy into a site that virtually leaves her at the mercy of a specific website vendor. As I’m sure you can imagine, I could not convince him and 8-months later, her site is still not completely finished.

How do you convince people of the value of working with a professional website developer?
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